by Dylan Carlson Sirvent, ’19 and Maya Mattan, ’20

Next year, a host of new classes will be introduced into the UAHS curriculum. Among these new classes are IB World Religions, IDEAS Seminar and American Sign Language.


Photo courtesy International Baccalaureate Organization

The newest addition to the IB program, provides a “systematic, analytical yet empathetic study of the variety of beliefs and practices encountered in nine main religions of the world” according to the 2018-2019 Program of Studies.

History teacher Mark Boesch was approached by AP/IB Coordinator Cynthia Ballheim about whether he would be interested to teach the course.

“I’ve always wanted to teach [IB World Religions],” Boesch said. “Religion fascinates me. It’s history, it’s culture; everything wrapped into one.”

Moreover, since the class has an IB curriculum, which tends to emphasize critical thinking and writing, students should not expect to see multiple-choice questions on tests.

“It’s going to be a written curriculum; there will be an Internal Assessment throughout the course. There will also be an IB test… and those [tests] will all be essay,” Boesch said. “The class is centered around reading, writing and discussions.”

Junior Claudia Gonciulea chose to take the class to learn more about religions and their role in history and modern society.

“I feel like we don’t learn enough about other cultures and religion [that have] had an enormous influence on society and history in general,” Gonciulea said. “I want to learn how different religions influence people’s lives.”


Laura Moore, who will be teaching IDEAS Seminar next year, was inspired to create the class after seeing students’ desire to “express their views and opinions and hopes and dreams.”

As head of UAHS’ Research and Design Lab, she saw how extracurriculars took up students’ schedules and made it very difficult to schedule R&D meetings.

“Even though students were interested in scheduling a meeting for R&D, it was virtually impossible to find a time where we could all meet. In the entire first quarter, there was no time for all of us tomeet,” Moore said.

Moore started thinking about how she could increase student involvement while not adding an extra burden to their already packed schedules.

“I took a step back and said, ‘If we really want an R&D space in our school where we can propose ideas, respond to ideas and investigate ideas that could end up creating spaces of innovation… then it’s essential to have a student voice, and we need to figure out how to do that,” Moore said.

Photo Courtesy Pat Lyn

As Moore started putting together what would become IDEAS Seminar, she couldn’t help but see the overlap the class had with public speaking.

“I teach public speaking, and when I gave my students the task to participate in Columbus SOUP where students had to develop a project and persuade a group of people, 200 people, to invest in their idea, the commitment that I saw when the task became real was leaps and bounds beyond anything I had ever seen before,” Moore said.

If a student takes IDEAS Seminar, it counts towards their public speaking credit that is necessary for graduation.

“In order [for the students] to be able to express their opinions in way that is going to be taken seriously, they need to research for it, be thoughtful about it, they need to formulate good arguments,” Moore said. “They need to be able to run a meeting.”

Students in the class would be able to analyze proposals submitted to R&D, as well as create their own proposals in the second quarter of the semester-long class.


Photo Courtesy Wikimedia

ASL—American Sign Language—is finally back at UAHS. The class used to not count towards the student’s global language credit, but next year, it will. In the past, not many signed up because it didn’t count as a language credit, but now many more are weaving this class in their schedule. The class was brought back to the high school after a growing number of students voiced that they wanted the class to be incorporated into the curriculum.

“ASL is back as an option because the community requested for it to be back as an option,” head teacher of UAHS’ Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Lisette Tedeschi said.

In addition, more colleges are now accepting this course as a foreign language. Tedeschi said it will be just like any other language class, starting from the basics and slowly getting more challenging. ASL classes are a good way earn global language credits and learn how to communicate through gestures rather than spoken words.

Junior Audrey Molnar, who will be taking the class next year, said that she “chose to take ASL because the concept has always interested me. Also, my Grandma is fluent in it which has always both impressed and inspired me.”

Sophomore Ava Towle also plans to take ASL next year.

“I want to be able to talk and interact with more people. I wanted to break language barriers by being able to interact with everyone at our school,” Towle said. “It’s going to be a fun break from my day from all my common core classes.”

According to the Program of Studies 2018-19, students will have the chance to sign with deaf people in the community to further their skills. ASL will be a year-long class and is open to students of all grades.